Have you ever read the Bible? I ask mostly out of curiosity because I think a great deal of misconceptions surrounding Christianity solve themselves within the text—and without the help of Google. In fact, the first time I read the Bible, cover-to-cover, there was only a few times I found myself saying, “Wait, didn’t this just read differently?” At those moments, I went back and re-read what I thought I read earlier. I truly found, more often than not, the inconsistencies alleviated themselves. But then there were the handful of times that simple readings did leave me wanting. There were times when the 10 Commandments of Exodus didn’t match the 10 Commandments of Deuteronomy. There were times when the number of angels at the tomb were outright different depending on the author. There were the times the reigns of the kings seemed skewed.
Those were the times I asked Google for help.
The first time I read the Bible, I hadn’t yet gone to Bible college or started Seminary. The first time I read the Bible, I didn’t know who Jesus was or what a Christian worldview meant for my life. The first time I read the Bible, I was fulfilling a promise—for a friend. I honestly didn’t have a lot of, if any, expectations.
My Google searches for “answers”, however, led to a lot more questions. There are some really, really smart atheists in the world. Some of their questions and problems with the Bible have a lot of merit. But, I learned something while researching biblical inconsistencies.
There are no unanswered atheist objections to Christianity.
Please don’t jump up in arms. I am not saying that all Christianity’s answers are accepted, or understood, or even unanimous. I’m not saying that putting spiritual concepts into physical descriptions are not without problems. I am only saying that for every “problem” raised by an atheistic objection there is an answer; in other words, the problems are never dismissed.
I cannot say the same for atheism. There are several questions that atheists must answer in the passive, “don’t know” or in the passive positive, “don’t know, yet.” Or, even worse, there are questions that atheists completely dismiss.
“What is the first cause?”’ “Don’t know.”
“How did life form from non-life?”; “Don’t know, yet.”
“Why is their evil in the world?”; “I don’t believe in things like good and evil.” [i]
Christianity answers these questions: God was the first cause; God created life; evil is the result of sin. Christianity has answers whether you believe them to be right or not. Further, the answers aren’t just a Goddidit pass-off; they are biblical statements. See Psalms 102:12, Isaiah 40:28, Heb 13:8, Gen 1:1, Rev 22:13, Psalm 90:2, Eph 1:4, and many more for examples of this. These were the answers before we knew to ask the question. And therein lies the problem. Proclaiming atheism is a consequence of shallow reasoning.
This post is a follow-up to my last one: “Atheism is the Burger King of Worldviews”. In that post I called out the foundational concepts of atheism—there aren’t any. It is a make-it-up-as-you-go worldview.[ii] But, before I get into the heart of the problem, I want to share the story of Jim Elliot.
Jim was a missionary killed by the Huaorani people of Ecuador. This people group was un-reached; a group of people who had no contact with civilization.[iii] To prepare the Huaorani people for contact, Jim and his team would fly over the group and drop resources—food, supplies and other things to build a trust. After a while, they were able to meet and began to start the communication process. One day, seemingly out of the blue, the tribesmen, with whom they had already established a trust, killed them in an ambush. The entire party was killed.
This is the story shared by Jim’s wife, Elizabeth Elliot, in the book, “The Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot”. As it turned out, Elizabeth eventually confronted the tribe that killed her husband and led them all to Christ. It’s a remarkable story I encourage you all to read, but it’s not why I shared it here. What impressed me the most about this story is the testimony of why Jim was killed. When the fly-overs began, they believed the people to be gods; they had never experienced flying before. But, as the men began teaching about the one true God, the tribesmen knew Jim and friends couldn’t be gods—so they killed them.
See, the people who had no idea about technology, science, medicine, evolution, or anything we First World People take for granted, believed in a god. They had to. Because even to these cut-off people, they were smart enough to realize they were surrounded by life: trees and plants were alive, the people themselves were alive, they were forced to rely on their own wisdom to formulate a cause for existence.
This concept even matches up with ancient Greek understanding. In one of Paul’s most famous missionary journeys, he traveled to Mars Hill to discover that the people of Athens worshiped every god they could imagine. One placard even read, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD”. Paul used that as an entry point to describe Jesus and his work on the cross. He revealed who the unknown God is—the God of gods; the Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end.
The difference between the Greeks and the Huaorani people is the Greeks were educated, philosophers. See, it wasn’t just a lack of education that left the tribesmen believing in God long after the rise of intellectualism. Quite contrary. It was their need to justify the world.
Somewhere along the way, however, we gave up on that. Somewhere, answering big questions like “Where did life come from” stopped being the most significant question. We started pursuing science to maintain life (medicine), take life (warfare), and condition life to our own standards (education). The major questions stopped being “Why are we here?”; “What is the purpose of humanity?”; and started to become “How much can I do?”; “Where can we go?”
It’s with this in mind that I came up with the title, “Atheism is a #FirstWorldProblem”. It’s not that I think atheism is problematic. Honestly, I think it’s a cop-out; I think it’s selfishly motivated. But this post really isn’t about my opinion about atheism. It’s about atheism neglecting a foundation of the world in support of a foundation for the next. Let me explain this like a crime scene.
Netflix released a documentary earlier this year called, “Making a Murderer”. In that movie the producers show several different views and perspectives of a crime scene. They showed processes of DNA testing, blood splatter (and absence there-of), and even evidence tampering. Each scientific test was independent. For example, the test that revealed Steven Avery’s blood did not depend on where it was found or who found it. Similarly, the test that showed zero evidence of bleach or other cleaning agents at the crime scene did not depend on whether blood was found.
Throughout the series, several instances arose that depicted the legal system as corrupt. In one such instance, national television coverage released a sworn testimony of a relative claiming that Avery was guilty. After applying independent scientific analysis, the testimony was found to be false. But when retribution was asked, retribution was denied. One judge was faced with determining what was sabotage vs what was convictable; one judge had to decide, is this evidence admissible?
What’s important to note about this whole process is the conviction of Steven Avery depends only on the evidence that judge deemed ‘allowable’. If, for example, the judge decided that blood from a tampered container was allowed (it was), but the evidence supporting the tampering was not allowed (it wasn’t), then the conviction would only be based on the fact that the jury’s partial knowledge of the blood at the crime scene.
While the tampering of evidence may not have swayed the jurors’ conviction, it certainly is part of the evidence. But I don’t want to get hung up on the Steven Avery case; there are many good reasons to limit allowable evidence in a courtroom. But this life isn’t a courtroom. It isn’t enough to simply limit the questions allowable to formulate a position.
Ignoring the question, “Where did life come from?” doesn’t mean that life no longer exists. If we figure out how DNA processes information, that does not mean that DNA and information has always existed. But somewhere along the line atheism in first world countries decided it doesn’t matter. No, in first world societies we seem to be more concerned with living for the moment, YOLO, and instant gratification.
This isn’t a new concept. Thousands of years ago, the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, “There is nothing new under the sun.” There are countless stories of men and women of the Bible walking away from God, resting on their own understanding and giving up what they knew to be true for what they wanted for themselves. In fact, it’s a reoccurring theme: walk with God, walk away from God, cry out for God, and repeat.
If you haven’t read the Bible, I strongly encourage you to—without the help of Google. There will be problems; it’s a difficult book. It was written to help understand the questions atheism cannot and will not answer. It was written for you. So that you may know the truth and for that truth to set you free.
Atheism is a #FirstWorldProblem. It is a problem to think that all the things that exist in first-world countries exist separately from the life that exists in third-world countries. It is a problem to think that, just because you learned to walk, you don’t need to explain the existence of feet. It is a problem to believe that God doesn’t exist simply because you think you don’t need Him. It is a problem to be an atheist because you first need to exist before you can denounce the Giver of existence.
[i] Wait, what!? Isn’t one of the major objections to Christianity the problem of evil??!??
[ii] I use the worldview here to describe an outlook. My next post will cover why I use this word freely to describe atheism. You will not find its defense here or in my comments. Thanks in advance.
[iii] Jim was killed in 1956 for reference to the time-frame